Every Atom | No. 198

David Lehman

Introduction to Every Atom by project curator Brian Clements

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I stop somewhere waiting for you

— That's how it ends, without a period. 

The poem stops.


The poem stops but, under

your boot-soles, is still

here, waiting for you,


or in river eddies, counter 

to the main current, 

or in the air.


“I” begins the line, “you” ends it,

for every atom belonging to me

as good belongs to you.


The poet and the reader are one,

failing, missing, waiting, and always

on the eve of departure,


which is why I believe

it makes an excellent first line:

I stop somewhere waiting for you

David Lehman

David Lehman is a poet (with eight books of poems) and one of the foremost editors of poetry and nonfiction about poetry. He edited the University of Michigan Poets on Poetry series and founded and continues to serve as Editor of the Best American Poetry annual series of anthologies. He also edited the newest edition of the Oxford Book of American Poetry. He is the recipient of awards from the NEA, the Guggenheim Foundation, and many other organizations.


Cover art by Sarah Pauls